Review: Female Under-Gi Gear – Special Guest Reviewer!
This update is brought to you from a special gal in my life: Keri, a.k.a. BlackGryphon03, a.k.a. my girlfriend. She’s a talented BJJ practitioner and aficionado, so without further ado, here she is!
Hey everyone! My name is Keri, follow me @BlackGryphon03 on Instagram. I am Kiyoshi’s girlfriend and, shortly thereafter, fellow Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast. I have been training for about 11 months and recently received my second stripe on my white belt. I balanced most of my first year of training with completing my Bachelor of Science in Nursing, and am now training BJJ as often as I can while waiting to start work as a Registered Nurse. I currently train mornings and evenings three times per week for a total of approximately 10 hours per week.
Whether you are a woman who trains, or have a woman in your life who trains (or who may start training with enough encouragement), my hope is that you can benefit a bit from some of my discoveries. For my first guest feature, I wanted to start from the bottom up, and talk about what I wear under my Gi (how risqué!). Compression gear can get expensive, and nothing is worse than buying something only to find out it just doesn’t work all that well once you are actually on the mat, this I know from personal experience. I buy all my gear based on comfort of fit and durability. It follows that it was important to me that the products were carried in retail stores so I could try them on. Whenever possible, I recommend that you try gear on prior to purchase. Once you know you love it and what size fits best, purchasing online is definitely convenient since stores don’t always have stock in all sizes. The following items have remained my staples for day-to-day training since being purchased almost a year ago. If you want some solid basics to wear under the Gi while training, I whole-heartedly recommend you check these products out for yourself!
A good, solid sports bra is priority number one for me when it comes to training BJJ, and I am admittedly picky. Prior to joining BJJ, when I was just running at the gym, I used the Under Armour Bra 32DD. This came with the steep price of $70. Like a normal bra, this UA bra features metal hook clasps at the back. While this was a super comfortable and supportive bra for running (and could work equally well for Taekwon-Do/ Kick boxing), it was entirely unsuited to BJJ. Those convenient clasps were likely to dig in, bend, and even come entirely unclasped once you were rolling and contorted.
So I embarked on a search for a sports bra that would be tough and supportive enough to stand up to the trials of BJJ. I tried all kinds, from big name to cheap generic. I now swear by and adore the Energy Bra from LuLu Lemon. I have a 32” bust and fit a size 6. I have so much faith in the durability of this bra that I often wear it under my gi without a shirt or rash guard. That’s trust, baby. Don’t be fooled by the manufacturer’s description of “light support”. The fabric-covered bottom elastic just does not quit. It is 3cm (about 1 ¼”) of pure stubbornness. This bra also features 4 fabric-covered elastic shoulder straps that criss-cross appealingly over the shoulder blades. The result is a snug-fitting hybrid between a regular bra and a racer-back. All of the stitching is reinforced. I have three of these bras and have never had a strap break on any of them. I’ve also never had any of the straps get caught up in a collar grip.
As a novelty, it really doesn’t hurt that this bra is available in a multitude of awesome prints and patterns. The fabrics are rotated out, which means new patterns become available over the year. The bra comes with removable shell liners, which I never use since I’ve never been cold training—if you get my meaning. Just be aware that there are some lighter colours which can be a bit see-through without the inner shells. The neck line is scooped, but not so low as to be an issue in terms of coverage. Then again, for some of you bustier gals out there, you may prefer something with a higher neckline. It just so happens that I lost about 20 lbs prior to and during BJJ and found my bust decreased alongside my waistline. You can pick this bad boy up and start your collection for around $55 when all is said and done.
Given that I already found I was really warm just wearing compression shorts under the gi pants, I was hesitant to purchase spats. However, I was also starting to get tired of having to shave my legs before every class. It wasn’t so much the actual time involved in shaving, but the resulting razor burn during the colder months when my skin was already dry, and quite frankly, having moisturized legs during training makes for very slippery triangles.
So off I went to try on some compression gear. I landed on the Women’s Under Armour HeatGear tights. Kiyoshi actually bought me a pair for Christmas, a couple months after I started training BJJ. These are, hands-down, my absolute favourite spats. I have 33” hips and 28” waist and I wear a SM (small-medium) .They offer a compression fit with a soft and wide waistband. No muffin top. Despite not having any silicone strips, the waistband and ankle cuffs stay exactly where they start, especially once saturated with sweat. I’ve never had the waistband roll or creep down. The stitching is durable and I haven’t had any popped seams or loose threads in all this time. The superior fit allows room for a bit of a backside, which I have, and the length in the legs is generous enough to easily reach the base of the ankles (covering any prickly stubble). I do have skinny ankles, so the ankle fit is just a touch relaxed on me, but in my mind that just means I have room to build some muscle! Oh, and in terms of heat control: I’m completely comfortable wearing these even during the dead of summer. True to the name of “HeatGear,” the fabric breathes easily and has great range of motion.
One of my pet peeves on many tights/spats (cut for men, I suspect) is the lack of a crotch panel to prevent the dreaded ride-up or “C. T.”. That is another major selling point for these spats: they do feature such a panel, which really promotes female comfort. So, no riding up with these UA spats, not on the calves, waistband or the crotch. For about $55 CDN (available in black only) these spats are a worthwhile investment, and run about the same cost as any other pair. Simply put, these spats are the benchmark against which I judge all other spats and I would recommend them for Gi and No-Gi to any female practitioner.
Although I now wear the aforementioned spats on a day-to-day basis for BJJ, I started training using Women’s Under Armour 7” Compression Shorts. These shorts feature the same waistband and fit as the spats, including a crotch panel. I really like the length on these shorts since they reach about mid-thigh on me. This prevents uncomfortable rubbing when gi pants get all bunchy. The shorts are also available in a shorter length of 4”; however I think the 7” offers better and safer coverage for No-Gi training. If you plan to wear them for that purpose I feel that the 4” would be more likely to result in butt cleavage. If you’re cool with assuming that risk, the 4” is probably otherwise comfy, too.
The 7” compression shorts cost about $45 CDN, which is only $10 less than the full-length spats. Similarly they are only available in plain black fabric. In terms of bang for your buck, I would now choose another set of spats over shorts. However, if you’re planning to compete in Gi, these shorts would be your best bet, since I believe spats are not allowed under Gi according to IBJJF/CBJJF rules.
I mentioned before that I often don’t wear a rash guard under my Gi, sticking to just my sports bra. My aversion to rash guards is primarily based on my heat intolerance. I have a higher metabolism and I can get pretty darn cranky when I feel over-heated. Well, lately we’ve had several young teenage boys join the Adult class because they’re just getting too big for the kids class. So, I’ve decided to err on the side of propriety and respect for what can be an awkward period of growth and development and wear rash guards more often. I’m not so sure it’s really an issue, since I’m not often paired up with them and their minds are much more likely on training anyhow.
When I do wear a rash guard, it’s either my Under Armour Heat Gear Short Sleeve Compression Shirt (Men’s Small) for about $35 or my 93Brand Ladies Rosie Rash Guard (Women’s medium), I got it off BJJHQ Android app for around $45. One of the reasons why I picked up the UA is because the fabric is much thinner and more suitable for wearing under a Gi. I find that both rash guards are a bit loose, overall. Not surprising for the UA, given it’s a men’s cut, but I have yet to come across a women’s UA compression shirt, only “fitted”. Both rash guards were sort of impulse buys, and my wallet is still a little resentful. As a result of the somewhat loose fit, I find that rather than guarding me against a rash, I sometimes wind up with one from wearing these. I’m still searching for a rash guard that I really like and I’ll get back to you on this issue down the road, maybe.
Thanks for following along with me and I hope you weren’t too bored! Next time I’d like to review some of the Gis that I’ve tried which I would recommend to other women. Please feel free to follow me on Instagram @BlackGryphon03 if you’re so inclined. 🙂
I hope all of you lady readers out there – or male readers with female compatriots who might be interested – can save yourselves a bit of buyer’s remorse, or at least get a good idea of what’s out there. A first-hand review like this is priceless, so please take advantage of it! Also, feel free to leave your recommendations or warnings below.
–Kiyoshi “The Prototype”, via Keri “The Black Gryphon”
–Your #1 Canadians eh?
Triangle Army, Respect the Technique.